Liberal Democracy in Question

A Citizen’s Appeal to Barack Obama

Defending our democracy from authoritarianism

Barack Obama: if you meant what you said in your Presidential farewell address, then it is time to come out of political retirement. NOW. Trump may have smiled as he crossed paths with you on his way to your former home. But that was a game, and you’ve known it all along. The gloves are now off. He is denouncing, revoking, and undermining everything of value that you tried to do. He is the antithesis of everything you said about democracy. He is a danger to the republic and to everyone who inhabits our common earth.

This can’t wait. Every day brings us one day closer to authoritarianism, to war, to disaster. Unless you have closed your eyes and ears, you can see and hear this. You know this.

What canon of “civility” and “respect for the constitutional transfer of authority” can require you now, as a citizen, to speak out against this travesty to American liberal democracy?

You were the center of Democratic politics for over eight years. The Democratic party is now leaderless and rudderless. And the Constitution is now under siege.

You are not a savior. You are not a prophet. You are an ex-President who is also a good man and a citizen of our democracy. You are a husband and a father and a neighbor of people who are being threatened by what your successor is doing on an hourly basis.

It is time for you to speak out. It is time for you to mobilize others to speak out. You still demand attention. You command respect. Yours is a powerful voice for democracy. Use it. Now. Speak. Act. Join. Lead. Help us organize what John Dewey once called a Great Community. There is no time like the present. There is no time to wait. The arc of the universe may bend toward justice. Or it might now be twisted out of shape altogether. We need to bend the arc toward justice. And we need you to do your fair share, to use the resources uniquely at your disposal.

President Obama — we still call ex-Presidents that — it is time to defend the democracy that you so eloquently envisioned.

It is time. Now.

Also for you:

Jeffrey C. Isaac

  • Emily Van Tassel

    Under normal circumstances a former president should be allowed to retire from public life for a time, to recover from the pre-mature aging that the presidency inflicts. But these aren’t normal times, and President Barack Obama is a relatively young man. I agree that we need him more than ever now. I disagree with the wording to “do your fair share” however. He has done his “fair share”–we need and want him to do MORE than his fair share, and we should acknowledge that. It is my belief that what would help the country even more would be to persuade Michelle Obama to take up the mantle.

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